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Scottish Government should ensure Thomas Cook workers ALL receive protective award payments says TSSA

29 October 2019

A TSSA motion at STUC Women's Conference today urged the Scottish government to ensure Thomas Cook workers in small offices benefit from a protective award payment.

Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said, “We’ve all popped into the local travel agent to pick up a brochure. In so many high streets across Scotland there’s only 3 or 4 staff on at a time – if that. But Thomas Cook’s failure to consult had the same devastating impact on our members in those small shops as those in bigger shops. No time to plan, to look for other work, to think about the future.

“It’s a national disgrace that the Tory government that passed the 1992 TULRCA act let massive employers off the hook by going by individual workplaces rather than looking at the size of the company as a whole. Hundreds of workers across Scotland will miss out as a result.

“Andrea Leadsom, the Tory Business Secretary did nothing to help Thomas Cook. Now my challenge to Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills is: Will you be different? Step in and help our members in Thomas Cook– mostly women – who lost their jobs over Thomas Cook by setting up a fund to compensate those left out by the TULRCA.”

- Ends -

Notes to editors.

Under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRCA) employers have a duty where there is known to be a possibility of many redundancies in the workplace. to inform and consult with the union with a view to minimising potential redundancies and ameliorating the effects on the workforce.
Thomas Cook's management failed to consult with unions before it collapsed forcing 9000 workers into redundancy. Consequently, TSSA is pursuing claims for protective awards under TULRCA.

However, there is no duty for collective consultation if the number of redundancies would be under 20 people.

Many former Thomas Cook shops did not employ twenty or more employees but the effect of the failure to consult has had an equally devastating impact on those staff. TSSA is unable to pursue claims for those workers as the law stands.

The full text of the motion to STUC Women’s Conference

"With the news that the Thomas Cook Group was going into liquidation, thousands of workers in an instant lost their jobs, including at many locations in Scotland. The suddenness of the demise of their employer meant that Cook's workers were thrown into deep uncertainty about their own and their families' futures and how they were going to find alternative work to pay the bills.

The effect of the liquidation amongst Thomas Cook's chain of High Street shops has been most acutely felt by women who make up the majority of the workforce.

In the last few weeks, an announcement has been made that 99% of employees have received their redundancy entitlements although other compensation is still due. The decision by Hays Travel to purchase 555 shops across the UK, including 55 in Scotland, has given some hope to workers of continuing in the trade that they love.

Despite these developments, however, the failure by Cook's management to consult has led to claims for protective awards under TULRCA where 20 or more employees have been made redundant at an establishment (workplace). Many former Thomas Cook shops did not employ twenty or more employees but the effect of the failure to consult has had an equally devastating impact on staff. For this reason, Conference calls on the STUC Women's Committee to argue that the Scottish Government ensures that despite the legal provisions, Scottish Thomas Cook workers should all receive the benefits of an uncapped protective award payment wherever they worked."

 

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